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Insects and bugs approved for use as food products in Finland

Foodies with a penchant for exotic foods in Finland may have something to smile about. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry announced on Wednesday that the cultivation and sale of insects as food is now permitted.

sirkkoja ja purkkeja
File photo of canned edible crickets. Image: Mikael Kokkola / Yle

An interest in using insects as food has increased among consumers and companies alike in recent years.

However, due to EU guidelines - which, according to the ministry of agriculture have room for interpretation - the use of insects as foodstuff has been banned in Finland until now.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said on Wednesday that it has now decided to interpret the EU guidelines the way other member countries already have - so that insects can be cultivated and sold as food.

Edible insects were sold in Finland before Wednesday's announcement, but the bugs were marketed as, for instance, "kitchen decorations."

Now, the ministry says it wants officials to be able to regulate insect cultivation and sale according to standard food safety laws.

The food safety regulator Evira said it welcomed the decision, according to the ministry.

jauhomato sirkka ötökkä ruoka
Meal worm appetisers. Image: Yle

"The cultivation and sale of insects as food products demands that we ensure the final products are safe for consumers. Evira will provide instructions for producers and regulators, and we will also immediately start to create rules for the business alongside the industry's entrepreneurs," Leena Räsänen, director of Evira's food safety division, was quoted saying in the ministry's press release.

Finns interested in eating bugs

The practice of using insects as food is relatively new to western countries, but people in Finland seem to be more interested than their European counterparts.

A survey carried out last year by Turku University and the Natural Resources Institute found that 50 percent of respondents said they would buy insect-based food if they were available.

One third of respondents said they had already tried eating them in some form.

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